CHICAGO - President-elect Barack Obama named New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as Commerce secretary yesterday, filling a top economic post and placing a second former campaign rival in his new Cabinet.

"We have everything we need to renew our economy," Obama said. "We have the ingenuity and technology, the skill and commitment - we just need to put it to work."

He called Richardson a leading "economic diplomat for America. During his time in state government and Congress, and in two tours of duty in the Cabinet, Bill has seen from just about every angle what makes our economy work and what keeps it from working better."

Obama seemed in a lighthearted mood as he made the announcement.

Asked about Richardson's recent decision to shave his beard, Obama joked that he was "deeply disappointed."

He said that he guessed that Richardson decided to jettison the facial hair after his wife found it scratchy.

Richardson, 61, was United Nations ambassador and energy secretary during the Clinton administration, and is in his second term as governor. He also served seven terms in the House of Representatives.

If confirmed by the Senate, he would run a department that oversees the National Weather Service, the Census Bureau, economic development programs and more.

Obama has moved quickly to fill out his Cabinet, having named more than half of it in the month since he was elected the country's 44th president. *